The executives of Telegram, the widely used messaging app in Iran, are heeding calls from Iranian government officials to better police Telegram’s users as rallies in support and protest of the government sweep the country.
Telegram is a major platform for information in Iran and counts more than 40 million users among the country’s 80 million people. And it has played an especially key role in this week’s anti-government protests against Ayatollah Khamenei. Counter-rallies supporting the government also emerged on Saturday.
But also on Saturday, the Iranian telecommunications minister, Mohammad-Javad Azari Jahromi, wrote a message on Twitter to Pavel Durov, the CEO and founder of Telegram.
@Durov: A Telegram channel is encouraging hateful conduct, use of Molotov cocktails, armed uprising, and social unrest. NOW is the time to stop such encouragements via Telegram.— MJ Azari Jahromi (@azarijahromi) December 30, 2017
A few hours later, the Dubai-based Durov signaled that he would take the government’s request seriously.
Calls for violence are prohibited by the Telegram rules. If confirmed, we'll have to block such a channel, regardless of its size and political affiliation.— Pavel Durov (@durov) December 30, 2017
And by later the same day, Durov had apparently confirmed the problem and announced that Telegram would suspend the channel.
A Telegram channel (amadnews) started to instruct their subscribers to use Molotov cocktails against police and got suspended due to our "no calls for violence" rule. Be careful – there are lines one shouldn't cross. Similar case from October – https://t.co/OWQFBLywjr— Pavel Durov (@durov) December 30, 2017
Other social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter have similarly had to determine what types of political speech are permissible on their platforms and what violates their rules.
“For us, the line is pretty straightforward. Criticizing local authorities, challenging the status quo and engaging in political debate are OK,” Durov wrote in the linked blog post, originally published this October. “Meanwhile, promoting violence and calling for actions that can harm innocent people are not OK. This is a rule of thumb we’re always applying when moderating public channels.”
This article originally appeared on Recode.net.